"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

What ARE These Politicians Thinking? Lesson for the Day: Watch What They Do, Don't Listen to What They Say.

Apparently you can't believe politicians when they make campaign promises. Here's an article from the SE Missourian chronicling the broken campaign promises of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

The article chronicles Nixon's plans for the state in his election bid:

Nixon wrapped most of campaign proposals in economic terms. Expanding government-funded health care, college scholarships, public school funding and life sciences research were all billed as ways to boost the economy. His 34-page platform listed scores of specifics, including about two dozen ideas for "Turning Missouri's Economy Around" and about 30 education proposals.

The SE Missourian details the broken promises due to financial conditions of the federal and state government, but then notes his successes:

Nixon has signed legislation expanding some business tax credit programs while pushing to rein in others because of budgetary concerns. He has followed through on campaign pledges to direct more money to job training programs and expand high-speed Internet service in rural areas. Nixon's administration teamed up with telecommunications companies to win federal economic stimulus grants for Internet service. He used federal work force development money to provide summer jobs at state parks for more than 1,000 youths.

Is this politics as usual? Do politicians make promises which may be out of their reach due to unforeseen circumstances or sheer impossibility? Lt. Peter Kinder may be Governor Nixon's opponent in the upcoming election and he says this:

Kinder uses a baseball analogy to describe Nixon's performance. He puts Nixon's success at a level that likely would get a batter benched.

"He's not batting 1.000, he's not batting .300, he's not batting .200," Kinder said. "So it would appear that in an '08 campaign he was able to promise anything and get away with it."

I am wondering if this same statement could be provided to the Republican legislators voted into the state body under the auspices of conservatism and fiscal responsibility. Based on the educational report for our state, "Educated Citizenry 2020", it is neither conservative nor fiscally responsible. The plan emphasizes the creation of more charter schools under the guise of creating parental choice. What the plan doesn't disclose is charters will be operating under the same standards as traditional public schools, thanks to the State Board of Education signing on to common core standards. Innovation in curriculum and testing will be non-existent. This is a false choice and the legislators are not disclosing this fact to the taxpayers. This doesn't provide "reform"; it only provides opportunity for the private sector to make money from schools that subsequently will deliver the same product as public schools.

When studying legislation proposed for any aspect of our lives, taxpayers should ask:

  • Does this legislation create more federal control or more local/state control?
  • Does this legislation create unfunded federal mandates or is it fiscally responsible?
The educational plan set forth by the Republican Speaker of the House and the Republican Education committee leaders creates more federal control and creates unfunded mandates. Perhaps the constitutionally minded voters who voted these Republican legislators into office should look at their political rhetoric and their subsequent actions. Voters need to hold ALL public officials to their promises.

Kinder accuses Nixon of being "able to promise anything and get away with it". In the educational realm, the Republican legislators are following the same political trajectory. The Republicans ran on the platform of reasserting state control and demanding fiscal responsibility. Republican Senators and Representatives portrayed themselves as upholding and defending Constitutional values. Many of them campaigned in support of the "Health Care Freedom Act", which passed overwhelmingly with more than 71% of the votes. This Act was in direct opposition to federal health care legislative mandates and control.

Why have these values of these Republican candidates and now elected officials disappeared when talking about the deliverance of public (and quite possibly homeschooling and private) education? Why is the plan asking for more federal control and unfunded mandates? Why are they turning their backs on the conservative mantra on which they were elected?

I posed the question, "Do politicians make promises which may be out of their reach due to unforeseen circumstances or sheer impossibility?" These Republican legislators on board with this plan could have set forth a plan that was Constitutionally based and fiscally responsible; this plan is neither.

One may argue Nixon cannot keep many political promises because he is caught in a financial dilemma from which there is no escape and no avenue to uphold those promises. I believe the elected Republican legislators made promises to their conservative and libertarian supporters based on political expediency. They won their offices because of their constitutional and fiscally responsible platforms and they are woefully under delivering on those promises concerning the educational direction of Missouri. This is a dilemma of their own making.

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